Handling a Wound With and Without a First Aid Kit

Life threatening wounds are an occurrence that require treatment. If you have a first aid kit on hand, treatment generally goes relatively smoothly. But if you don't? Well, it just means you have to be a little creative. Here's what you need to know about wound care - both with or without a first aid kit.

Treating a Wound with a First Aid Kit

A life threatening wound can usually be identified through common sense. In this situation, a victim experiences a large amount of bleeding. Your goal in offering first aid is to control the bleeding until emergency services arrive. Whether you have a first aid kit or not, your first step should be to call 911.

If a first aid kit is available, you have access to the sterile dressings you need to safely and effectively address the wound. Start by exposing the injured area, then apply direct pressure to the wound. Continuing to apply pressure, secure a sterile dressing and a bandage to the injury. Monitor the area closely, and consider using a tourniquet if bleeding continues and help is still a long way away.

Treating a Wound Without a First Aid Kit

The main advantage of a first aid kit is easy access to sterile dressings. The key word here is sterile. An open wound creates a very high risk of bacterial infection. Sterile dressings and bandages reduce this risk. If you don't have any on hand, your task is to find something both absorbent and clean.

Without access to a first aid kit, your next best bet is disposable diapers. They're designed to be clean and absorbent, and in most public places it's easy to find a parent who has a few on hand. Use the diaper in place of a dressing, applying pressure until help arrives.

Another good option are sanitary pads or tampons. Again, both items are designed to be clean and absorbent, and in public places there's a high chance someone will have a few on hand. Tampons can be particularly effective for small, deep wounds, while sanitary pads are well suited for larger injuries.

Clothing, tea towels, and pillow cases can be used as a last resort if you don't have a first aid kit available. Clothing such as scarves, sweaters, and shirts tend to be the cleanest. Avoid using socks. Turn the clothing inside out and use the cleanest part to cover the wound. Threaded tea towels (not fuzzy ones) and high thread count pillowcases are also viable, but again, it's imperative that they're clean. 

While it is possible to treat a wound without a first aid kit, it's certainly not preferable. Limit your risk by keeping a kit on hand at home, at work, or while you travel. It's well worth the investment if disaster strikes. 

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